Getting Better

It's small consolation at best, but even though the losses are mounting, Miami is playing some of its best basketball of the conference season.

Since getting blown out on the road in January losses to Virginia Tech, Virginia and Maryland -- and blowing a 17-point second-half lead at home in a loss to Boston College -- the Hurricanes have pretty much been competitive in their last six outings.

Including an 81-74 home loss to Duke in which they led by 12 points at halftime, their worst loss was by nine points at Wake Forest.

The problem is that being "competitive" does not necessarily translate to victories.

The Hurricanes have won only two of their past six games -- over likely NCAA Tournament teams Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech -- to fall to 3-9 in the ACC, tied with North Carolina for 10th place.

But they are 17-9 overall and remain in contention for a bid to the NIT for the second consecutive season.

"As long as we've got games on our schedule," coach Frank Haith said, "we've got opportunities."

The Hurricanes have three of their remaining four regular-season games at home, starting with a visit from Virginia, and the lone road game is at struggling North Carolina.

After that comes the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. 

NOTES, QUOTES

--Senior F Dwayne Collins moved past Mario Bland (1,199 points) into 20th place among all-time Miami scorers with his 21 points in the loss to Duke. Collins has 1,209 points in his career, 22 short of 19th-place Mike McCoy.

--The Hurricanes enter the week shooting 46.8 percent for the season, which would be their best effort in more than a decade. The 1998-99 team shot 47.3 percent. The school record is 49.2 percent by the 1988-99 team.

ON THE SPOT: The Hurricanes have gone into a bit of a slump from behind the arc. In the past three games heading into this week, they are only 19 of 56 (33.9 percent) on 3-pointers after going 21 of 50 (42.0 percent) in their previous three outings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I shot a hundred yesterday. I pretty much shoot a hundred every day." -- F Dwayne Collins, a career 55-percent free throw shooter, after going 11-of-14 from the line against Duke. 

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP: A plethora of road games greeted Miami in ACC play, and it showed in the record. The Hurricanes had only three of their first nine conference games at home, and they got off to a 2-7 start. The loss to Duke snapped a brief, two-game home winning streak (Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech) and dropped them to 3-9 in conference play and 17-9 overall.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Dwayne Collins, C Julian Gamble, G Durand Scott, G Garrius Adams, G James Dews. Key Subs -- F Cyrus McGown, F DeQuan Jones, F Adrian Thomas, C Reggie Johnson, G Malcolm Grant.

GAME REVIEW:
Miami 64, Georgia Tech 62
Clemson 74, Miami 66
Duke 81, Miami, 74

GAME PREVIEW:

vs. Virginia, Tuesday, Feb. 23
vs. North Carolina State, Saturday, Feb. 27
at North Carolina, Tuesday, March 2
vs. Florida State, Saturday, March 6
ACC Tournament, Greensboro, N.C., Thursday-Sunday, March 11-14

IN FOCUS: Virginia jumped on Miami early in the first meeting between the two, leading 8-0 at the first media timeout with 15:53 left. The Hurricanes never recovered, shooting a then-season low 31.5 percent from the field. 

ROSTER REPORT: 

--Freshman G Durand Scott has scored in double figures in 10 games this season and has had four or more assists in 12 games. He had 19 points and four assists against Duke.

--Senior F Adrian Thomas leads Miami with 54 3-point field goals (124 attempts). Last season's leader, Jack McClinton, was 101 of 223 (45.3 percent) on 3-pointers.


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